Some of my favorite Mini-ITX retro case mods
The coolest thing about modern Mini-ITX motherboards is that fully-functional computers can be crammed into previously unimaginable spaces. Mini-ITX boards measure only 170mm x 170mm. Thanks to a low-power processor design, they can be passively cooled, eliminating the noise and bulk of whirling fan blades.
While originally intended for the embedded device market, hobbyists soon took note of the tiny form factor and they started popping up in the craziest places.
One of my favorite mods is the Atari 800 ITX by Andy Hutson. I was somewhat disappointed that the keyboard is non-functional (it's actually pulled from a slimmer Atari XL machine), but it's so cool to see a Samsung CDRW/DVD drive peeking out from the bottom of the case.
Iain Sharp's Mac-ITX deserves special mention for preserving the look and feel of the original device. Unlike most all-in-one Mac mods that incorporate 9 inch LCD panels, this Mac SE/30 redesign includes a re-purposed curve-tube CRT (the original displayed only black and white - hardly suitable for a modern Windows PC). The aesthetics are wonderful, and the slot-load DVD drive is almost unnoticeable on the front of the final unit. And lest Mac enthusiasts get wound up over the idea of cramming PC brains into an Apple case, the author runs the Basilisk II emulator to execute 68K Mac programs 15X faster than the original.
Retro Thing author Bohus Blahut is a TOMY Omnibot fan, so this next one is probably going to cause his blood pressure to skyrocket - It's Mr. Omni by Donald Thompson, built into the case of a terminally ill Omnibot. Most of the mechanicals were removed and the front panel cassette player was replaced by a slimline CDRW-DVD drive. I suspect this is the only Omnibot on the planet with 1GB or RAM and Windows XP Pro.
Typewriter fans will find Joel Zahn's Underwood No. 5 (top) irresistible. It was built in 1924, only to find itself ripped apart 80 years later with nefarious intent. The key mechanism was replaced by a miniature 77 key USB keyboard, and the motherboard and power supply fit tightly into the original No. 5 baseplate. The old glass-topped keys were hacksawed from the type bars and affixed onto the modern keyboard to ensure an authentic steampunk look underneath the original typewriter carriage and fascia.
These and other fantastic Mini-ITX hacks can be found at mini-itx.com.